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Probus: Antioch vs '4th eastern mint'


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Last week I was browsing this forum and ended up on a thread dedicated to Roman usurpers. At some point in the replies, a couple of colleagues started posting about the '4th eastern mint' identified by S. Estiot (L'empereur et l'usurpateur: un 4e atelier oriental sous Probus, Studies in Ancient Coinage In Honor of Andrew Burnett, pp.259-76). Since this kind of discussion is exactly what sparked my interest in ancient numismatics, I decided to follow their idea and present here two specimens which at first glance are very similar: one from the known series at Antioch, ca. 276-7 and another from this other '4th eastern mint'.

Why was this new mint needed? Well, in 280 Saturninus, governor in Syria, revolted against Probus and took over the mint of Antioch. To compensate for the loss of one of the most important mints of the Empire, Probus had a new mint open in Asia (somewhere in Phrygia en route between Cyzicus and Antioch according to S. Estiot) and had it struck a new series of the CLEMENTIA TEMP type, which was well known and used since the reign of Tacitus. After the defeat of Saturninus, the emperor regained control of Antioch so he moved (some) personnel from this '4th eastern mint' that had started a new series of RESTITVT ORBIS -- marking the end of the revolt -- and so Antioch resumed minting for Probus.

So here are the coins.

The Antioch second issue of 276-7 (RIC 921):



And the late 280 series (third issue) at the '4th eastern mint' (RIC 922):



The differences are mainly of style but also some subtle legend and detail differences.

- the first and probably most useful to look for is the letter M -- at Antioch is usually rendered similar to IVI while at the new mint it's fully formed

- the lettering in general is higher and wider, with a more standardized shape and module throughout the legend, both on obverse and reverse on the coinage of the new mint

- while Antioch during this period 277-80 employs both AVG and PF AVG for the Imperial title, the new mint only uses the full PF AVG

- the bust style on the coinage of the new mint is sharper with stronger features, most obvious in the shape and dimension of the eye

- on the reverse of the first coin from Antioch there is a simple globe while the new mint has a globe surmounted by a Victory -- this however is not always a difference, since the type was carried over from Antioch with this particular detail, the early 280 series at Antioch had a Victory on globe on the reverse and this is the type that Saturninus discontinued, unlike the 276-7 issue that only showed Jupiter with the simple globe.


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Great post on an interesting topic! Another difference that I (think I) am remembering… so this will need a fact check… is that Antioch only was operating with “X” number of mint workshops (4, 5?), while the newly opened 4th eastern mint was operating “X” plus a number of additional workshops (9?).

Anyway, at the airport and on the run. No time for facts! Here’s my 4th Eastern Mint Probus.


Edited by Orange Julius
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Posted (edited)

By early 281, with Saturninus dead, Probus is restored at Antioch again, prompting a new series marking his victory. He uses the earlier type instated by Aurelian after Palmyra and the Gallic Empire. For Antioch this RESTIVT ORBIS is Probus' 4th emission, starting early in 281 (RIC 925)




This is not the best specimen, but one can notice the air of familiarity in style with the earlier 276-7 CLEMENTIA TEMP of Antioch in the OP.

Edited by seth77
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